Special to the Gazette
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is urging residents to take proper precautions against COVID-19 amid a significant spike in COVID-19 virus particles in local wastewater that suggests higher levels of community spread. Boston has not experienced levels this high since May.
The concentration of COVID-19 RNA copies in local wastewater rose to 1,016 copies per mL over the past week, a 104.5% increase over the past 7 days. Boston’s COVID-19 metrics have risen steadily over the past few weeks as people began to spend more time indoors and students, including college students, returned to school. Boston will likely see similarly elevated rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks, data which often lags behind wastewater.
“This spike in our wastewater concentration is of great concern and another reminder that the pandemic is far from over,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “The key to protecting ourselves remains the same, and these tools are particularly important given this current trend: get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear masks indoors. By protecting ourselves now, we can reduce the risk of infection as we spend more time indoors in the fall and winter.”
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are free and readily available to the public. For additional information on COVID-19 testing and vaccination resources in Boston, go to boston.gov/covid19.
Based on the current trends, BPHC continues to recommend masking indoors to lower the risk of COVID-19. With flu season on the horizon, taking proper mitigation and prevention measures to avoid severe infection can reduce the strain on our health care system, especially our emergency care infrastructure. BPHC recommends that all residents:
Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce the risk of severe illness. Eligible individuals will receive the new bivalent omicron-specific booster. COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older.
Booster doses are recommended for everyone ages 5 years and older.
Bivalent boosters that provide broad protection against earlier COVID-19 strains, as well as the Omicron variant, are recommended for everyone 12 and up who completed a primary series with one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines once it has been at least two months since their last primary series or booster dose.
Get your annual flu
Flu shots are free and widely available in Boston, regardless of insurance status.
Test for COVID-19 before and after attending large gatherings,
especially if you know you will be around high-risk individuals, such as seniors, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are unvaccinated.
IMPORTANT: The federal government program offering free at-home rapid antigen testing kits to individuals has ended. In order to test for COVID-19, you must purchase a testing kit at a local retailer or visit one of Boston’s free testing clinics.
The Office of Public Health Preparedness is offering free at-home rapid antigen testing kits to community partner organizations.
BPHC recommends wearing a mask while indoors. Masking is especially important for those who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as people who are not fully vaccinated, seniors, and those who are immunocompromised.
Gather outside and choose outdoor activities as often as possible.
Open windows and doors to ensure good indoor ventilation.